A credit freeze or security freeze allows you to restrict access to your credit reports. Freezing your credit can help prevent identity thieves from applying for new credit in your name if that requires a hard inquiry of your credit reports. Freezing your credit doesn’t mean your credit history is completely off-limits to everyone. Any company that you have an existing credit relationship with will still be able to see your credit history, even with a freeze in place. And government agencies executing a court order or search warrant will also be able to access your credit file.
The Pros and Cons of Freezing Your Credit
Before you freeze your credit reports, take some time to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of doing so. For example, pros include ensuring no one uses your credit information without your permission, especially people who want to use it for criminal purposes. Plus, freezing your credit is free and doesn’t affect your credit score. Freezing your credit requires a few steps such as contacting all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) separately. Also, you must create a PIN for each bureau and go through requesting a temporary lift when you want to apply for credit.
Create or Receive a Pin
Experian and TransUnion require you to create a personal identification number (PIN), which you’ll use to manage your account in the future. That includes reviewing your freeze, temporarily lifting it, and removing it altogether. Make sure you choose a PIN that you can remember easily, so you don’t have to write it down for someone else to find. Equifax does not require a PIN but takes other steps to make sure it’s you
Know When To Lift A Freeze
Only you can view your credit reports if they’ve been frozen. While that helps ensure no one will use your name to open fraudulent accounts, it also means you won’t be able to apply for credit. The good news is that you can unlock a credit freeze temporarily, making it possible for lenders to view your credit report for a period that you determine—you can choose between one and 30 days. If you ask for a temporary lift online or by phone, by law, the credit reporting agencies are to complete your request within one hour.
Equifax Credit Freeze: Click Here
Experian Credit Freeze: Click Here
TransUnion Credit Freeze: Click Here
A credit freeze won’t prevent you from getting pre-screened credit offers. You’ll need to specifically opt out to stop receiving those.